Dr. Brad Masse, who lives immediately east of the Alden Street park, said he grew tired of apples landing in his yard from two trees growing on the adjacent public property. He also said the trees blocked his view of the waterfront.
The dentist took matters into his own hands and trimmed the trees several weeks ago.
No matter which way you slice it, that move caused controversy.
A neighbor said her family eats the apples from the trees, and she fears the trees may die because they were “butchered” during the growing season. Another neighbor said the trim job looks awful and Masse had no right to cut them.
Joyce Verplank Hatton — who lives in the Cote la Mer condominiums, immediately west of the trees — said it was a horrible hack job.
"I hope he leaves them alone in the future because he obviously doesn't know what he's doing," she said.
Masse said he received permission from Village Manager Chris Burns to do the pruning. Burns said she did not give him permission and is upset that a resident took it upon himself to hack up village trees.
“Man, these things were dropping apples all over the yard,” Masse said. “It was a big gnarly mess over there. Nobody sprays the apple trees for worms. They're just kind of mangy looking.”
Masse said village staff trimmed the trees two years ago, but has been neglecting upkeep on the public street end. Masse said he often pulls weeds and cleans up the area.
“When I called, they said they don't have it in the budget this year (to trim the apple trees)” Masse said. “(Burns) said go ahead and trim them.”
Burns said she has documented all of the conversations she has had with Masse. The manager said that, on July 15, she told him it was not the proper time of year to trim trees.
Burns then told Masse that she would talk with Village Public Works Director Roger Belknap about the trees and get back to him.
“I had not even had a chance to contact Roger yet and less than an hour later I got a call from a neighbor that (Masse's) out there trimming those trees,” Burns said. “I did not give him permission to trim those trees.”
Burns said Masse had called her several times and filled out a complaint form prior to the incident.
“He said, 'I pay a lot of money in taxes and it's blocking my view of the sunset,'” Burns recalled. “I told him those trees weren't on our radar and we hadn't budgeted to trim them this season.”
Also on July 15, Masse said he was going to trim the trees and send the village the bill. Burns said she told him she would not pay it. According to the manager, Masse then asked about trimming the trees and not sending a bill.
“I said, 'No, I have to talk to our (Department of Public Works) crew,'” Burns said. “Within an hour ... (Masse) was out there with a saw just whacking away at the trees. He proceeded to leave everything behind.”
Belknap said it took four DPW crew members two hours to clean up the limbs and branches.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.